Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its enforcement statistics for fiscal year 2009. It probably won't surprise many, but charges were high last year at 93, 277 total charges filed with the EEOC. That's actually slightly down from FY '08's high of 95,402. From the press release,
The FY 2009 data show that private sector job bias charges (which include those filed against state and local governments) alleging discrimination based on disability, religion and/or national origin hit record highs. The number of charges alleging age-based discrimination reached the second-highest level ever. Continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%). Multiple types of discrimination may be alleged in a single charge filing.
The near-historic level of total discrimination charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including greater accessibility of the EEOC to the public, economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of their rights under the law, and changes to the agency’s intake practices that cut down on the steps needed for an individual to file a charge.
The FY 2009 data also show that the EEOC resolved 85,980 private sector charges. In FY 2009, the Commission resolved more charges than ever alleging unlawful harassment, as well as allegations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In FY 2009, the EEOC recovered a record high of $294 million through administrative enforcement and mediation. Further, the productivity of EEOC investigators increased in FY 2009. The EEOC resolved the second highest number of charges per available investigator in the past 20 years.
The Commission also filed 281 new “merits” lawsuits and resolved 321 merits lawsuits in FY 2009 (merits suits include direct suits and interventions alleging violations of the substantive provisions of the statutes enforced by the Commission and suits to enforce administrative settlements).
Through its combined enforcement, mediation and litigation programs, the EEOC recovered more than $376 million in monetary relief for thousands of discrimination victims, and obtained significant remedial relief benefiting millions of workers across the country (e.g., court decrees or settlements requiring employers to change discriminatory policies or practices).
The benchmarks the EEOC has started to use to measure effectiveness--amount of relief and number of workers benefited--are better than what used to be their primary measure--charges processed. Still, I'm looking forward to (at some point) even better measures of the agency's effectiveness in eliminating discrimination, measures the EEOC has been working to develop for several years now.
Hat tip: Pat Schaeffer